The Cry for Restored Relations with God
Job 23:1-6
Then Job answered and said,…

The language of the text is exclusively that of men on the earth, — although it also characterises the state and feelings only of some of the guilty children of men. Some among the human race have already sought God, and found Him a present help in the time of trouble. The desire expressed in the text is that of one under affliction. It is either the prayer of an awakened sinner, crying and longing for reconciliation, to God, under deep conviction, and full of sorrow and shame on account of it: or the cry of the backslider awakened anew to his danger and guilt, under God's chastisements, remembering the sweet enjoyment of brighter days, and ardently longing for its return.

I. IT IMPLIES A PAINFUL SENSE OF DISTANCE FROM GOD. Men of no religion are far off from God, but this gives them no concern. The presence of Christ constitutes the believer's joy, and he mourns nothing so much as the loss of God's favour. Sad and comfortless as the state of distance from God must be to the believer, still he is painfully conscious of his own state, and crying like Job, "Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!" The occasions that most generally give birth to the complaint and cry in the text are such as these.

1. Bodily suffering, or the pressure of severe and long-continued outward calamities, may contribute to enfeeble the mind, and lead the soul to conclude that it is forsaken by its God. The dispensations of Divine providence appear so complex and difficult, that faith is unable to explore them, or hope to rise above them. The mind magnifies its distresses, and dwells on its own griefs, to the exclusion of those grounds of consolation and causes of thankfulness afforded in the many mercies that tend to alleviate their bitterness. In reality God is not more distant from the soul, though He appears to be so.

2. Another and more serious occasion of distance and desertion is sin cherished, long indulged, unrepented of, and unpardoned. This alienates the soul from God. Sin is just the wandering of the soul in its thoughts, desires, and affections from God, and God graciously makes sin itself the instrument in correcting the backslider. The righteous desert of the soul's departure from God, is God's desertion of the soul. God is really ever near to man. "He is not far from any one of us." But sin indulged, whether open, secret, or presumptuous, grieves the Holy Spirit, expels Him from the temple He loved, and cheered by His presence. Let us thank God that distance is not utter desertion. When the misery of separation and distance from God is felt, the dawn of restoration and reconciliation begins.

II. AS THE LANGUAGE OF EARNEST DESIRE. When "brought to himself" the backslider rests not satisfied with fruitless complaints, but the desire of his soul is towards his God. It is one thing to be conscious of distance from God, and quite another thing to be anxious to be brought near to Him by the blood of Christ. Conviction of guilt and misery is not conversion. What avails it, to know our separation from God, unless we are brought to this desire and anxiety, "Oh, that I knew where I might find Him!"

III. AS THE LANGUAGE OF HOLY FREEDOM. The text is a way of appeal by Job to God concerning his integrity. Though he had much to say in favour of his integrity before men, he did not rest on anything in himself as the ground of his justification before God. His language expresses a resolution to avail himself of the privilege of approaching the Most High with holy freedom and humble confidence, to present his petition.

IV. AS THE LANGUAGE OF HOPE. Job could expect little from his earthly friends. All his hopes flowed from another — an Almighty Friend. Those who wait on God, and hope in His Word, will surely not be disappointed. Then never give way to a rebellious spirit. Give not way to languor in your affections, coldness in your desires, indifference as to the Lord's presence or absence, or to feebleness of faith. Let the desires of your soul be, as David's, a "panting after God."

(Charles O. Stewart.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then Job answered and said,

WEB: Then Job answered,

The Believer Under Affliction
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